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Director Mike Nichols’ thrilling modern-day werewolf movie boasts a stellar cast, including Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer and James Spader, and presents itself as a witty and inventive hybrid of horror film, romantic thriller and biting satire about male anxiety and office politics, where the real monster is corporate greed. (Taken from the official synopsis.)

Video


As best I can tell Powerhouse has utilised the same master Sony used for its own US release of Wolf, which is a pity (to say its dated is a bit of an understatement). The image, while generally clean, looks quite flat and uninspired. Detail is acceptable, but never particularly impressive, with numerous scenes exhibiting a lot of softness. Grain is visible, but it’s quite uneven with some unsightly spikes visible at times. There are even moments when shimmering becomes a bit of an issue. The colour palette is quite natural for the most part, but flesh tones occasionally suffer from red push, particularly near the beginning of the film when things are at their most uneven. Contrast is merely adequate, but a reasonable amount of shadow detail is retained in the darker scenes and clipping is never a problem.

Audio


The disc includes both LPCM 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio options, the latter of which I opted to listen to for review purposes. It’s not a terribly dynamic or remarkable sound mix, but the various elements are reasonably well-balanced and there are some neat effects peppered throughout. These mainly take the form of enhanced ‘wolf’ hearing, animal noises, ambient environmental effects and the like. While I wouldn’t call the bass particularly potent, it does serve to reinforce the various growls and gunshots. Ennio Morricone’s score sits comfortably in the mix, often finding its way into the surround channels and never becoming overwhelmed by dialogue or effects.

Extras


Sony’s US release of Wolf is a featureless affair, so fans should be delighted that Powerhouse has assembled a fairly substantial collection of bonus material for its release. Here’s a list of what’s included:

  • The Beast Inside: Creating Wolf: a new documentary on the making of the film with new interviews from SFX legend Rick Baker, screenwriter Wesley Strick and producer Douglas Wick
  • Never-before-seen archival interviews with actors Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader and Kate Nelligan
  • Never-before-seen archival interviews with director Mike Nichols, producer Douglas Wick and writer Jim Harrison
  • Never-before-seen archival interviews with SFX maestro Rick Baker and production designer Bo Welch
  • B-roll footage
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
  • Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Brad Stevens, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and historic articles on the film

Overall


Wolf is an unusual take on the werewolf genre, but it never really seems sure of exactly what it wants to be. Part commentary on corporate greed and office politics, part monster movie, the former is fairly toothless and the latter lacks the sort of visceral, gory thrills usually associated with such films. The performances are fine, the direction is fine, the film is, well, fine, but it’s a strange beast on the whole and likely not one I’ll return to for repeat viewings.

As for the disc, well this is one of the least impressive Powerhouse releases I’ve seen from a purely audio-visual standpoint. That’s not to say it looks terrible by any means—eight or so years ago I would have been quite impressed by a catalogue title of this nature—but given some of the amazing restorations that have put out over the past few years—including those from both Sony and Powerhouse—it’s hard not to be somewhat disappointed by Wolf’s visuals. I found the audio to be similarly pedestrian, which came as a surprise given that I’d read some quite positive opinions prior to viewing the film. The bonus material is probably the real selling point here, as the US release is a bare-bones affair. If you’re a fan and don’t already own a copy on Blu-ray this is probably the release to get, but if you own the US disc you’ll have to weigh up whether or not the extras warrant another purchase.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

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